By Ezra Rich
If one were to take on a major leadership role, a global pandemic may not be the most opportune time. Fortunately, Temple Beth Tzedek was able to fulfill its presidential prescription with Marcia H. Goldstein last summer. This week she presided over its annual meeting and is now halfway thru her two-year term. As a skilled pharmacist, Marcia has been guiding Temple Beth Tzedek through the pandemic with care, concern, and focus.
The TBT COVID Team
Marcia has been a dedicated pharmacist for nearly 40 years, including 25 years with her current pharmacy, Rite Aid of New York, Inc. Marcia has been on the front lines helping her patients throughout the COVID-19 global pandemic. Marcia held a drive-up flu clinic last fall at TBT and counseled many during this most challenging period.
As the COVID vaccine started becoming available last winter, Marcia, along with Laurie & Ellis Werbow and Beth Kassirer, began finding available doses for eligible recipients. To date, they have helped connect hundreds of members of Jewish Buffalo and the broader community with COVID vaccinations. When Erie County began exploring having faith institutions serve as points of distribution (PODs), she rapidly prepared TBT’s application. The county has since focused on other approaches. Marcia is also active with Erie County Specialized Medical Assistance Response Team (SMART), a leading volunteer public health emergency response organization.
“It is pretty amazing to see the relief and gratitude on people’s faces when they get vaccinated,” says Marcia. “I actually thought a lot about retiring this past year (which has been very difficult), but it has felt like a calling to help everyone get vaccinated.”
As the Talmud teaches (Sanhedrin 37a), “Whoever saves a single life is considered to have saved the whole world.” Marcia’s tireless efforts for both her pharmacy patients, fellow congregants and others have saved many from COVID and returned life to them in the ability to safely meet again with family and friends.
Fostering Belonging and Community
Raised in Queens and Long Island, Marcia has called the Queen City home since she attended UB as an undergraduate in the late ‘70s. She met her husband, Alan, during work study and they have called Buffalo home ever since. They joined a predecessor congregation to Temple Beth Tzedek in 1982 and have been involved ever since.
Over the years, Marcia has served on the Ritual Committee, the Membership Committee, the Kesher Inclusion Committee, and has chaired for many years the Purim Mishloach Manot drive. The Purim fundraiser has raised thousands of dollars for the temple. She is also a member of the Chevra Kadisha, participating in the final ritual preparation of deceased Jewish women prior to burial.
When TBT was unable to host in-person events and services for many months, she challenged the Board to create and recommend virtual programming, an effort chaired by Dr. Lisa Benson. Thanks to Marcia’s vision, TBT members have made virtual trips to Israel, the Anne Frank Museum, and the Tenement Museum. TBT will be virtually hosting discussions on the future of the Jewish community with Brandeis University Prof. Matthew Boxer and perspective on COVID with Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale R. Burstein will be held in the coming weeks. Visit www.btzbuffalo.org to register.
A Recipe from Ruth
As we celebrate Shavuot next week, Jews traditionally read the Book of Ruth. In one of its most powerful scenes, Naomi advises her daughters-in-law to return to their families as she plans to return to Israel alone as a widow who has also buried her two sons. While Orpah leaves, Ruth famously says (Ruth 1:16), “Wherever you go, I will go… your people will be my people, your God my God.”
Temple Beth Tzedek and Jewish Buffalo is blessed that Marcia embraced Western New York after she graduated UB those decades ago. It has been as sweet for Buffalo as a proper Shavuot dessert baked by her as a talented baker and chef.
Here is one of her favorite family recipes in honor of the holiday:
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 in springform pan.
1 cup sugar
1/4 lb. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1- 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
8 oz. sour cream
Topping (mixed together):
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cocoa
(I like to make more of the topping – I add more of everything just for fun!)
Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add vanilla and eggs – one at a time until mixed. Add the flour, baking soda and baking powder to the egg mixture alternating with the sour cream until all incorporated.
Place some of the cinnamon, sugar, cocoa mixture in the bottom of the springform pan. Alternate adding batter with cinnamon-sugar-cocoa mixture ending with the topping. Bake in a 350 oven for approximately 35-40 minutes until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack and then remove from the springform pan.